A Treatise on Magick Part 3
My earlier breakdown in a treatise on magick created three classifications for sorcery: the ward, glamour and charm. However, as I pondered the role and use of magick in my world, I felt that having just these three options could be too limiting to my writing. Magic, afterall, is meant to be the strongest fantastical element of my story. These wondrous components are the hallmarks of the fantasy genre. I feel readers read fantasy precisely for the mysterious and mystifying elements and I didn’t want things too actually be dry and boring. I just wanted to give the feel that most people in my world found magic to be boring.
I was, essentially, pursuing that pre-Einstein field of thought. Physicists felt they had covered just about all the field had to offer with Newton’s laws and only the smallest of details remained. We know now that such a perspective couldn’t be further from the truth. But I wanted that sense that magic was on the decline. And without resorting to some sort of mystical explanation that the “magic” of the world was “vanishing” I instead opted to just have the mystery for its people dispelled.
But to make sure I didn’t ultimately leave myself written into a corner, I decided I would leave a small loophole. Thus, invocations and rituals were born. They would be the explanation, the metaphorical hand wave, that I could use whenever my sorcerers did something beyond the expected. What he did may not have been a glamour, ward or charm. It could be an invocation – the catchall for everything that I hadn’t the foresight to have penned down before my system had been completed.
Invocations, Rituals and Alchemy: Cornerstones of the Magickal Trade
Excerpts from the lecture by Emmanuel Dupont
No doubt, young initiate, you have perused the nature of the magickal. You have glimpsed upon the vast aether and felt the lines of power that course through it. Undoubtedly, you have received a pseudo-intellectual explanation of the greatest of the natural forces. You think you understand the rudimentary concepts of flavours and shades. You believe that wind is composed of wind energy.
Well, my young initiate, you are wrong.
The use of the arcane is a far more complicated matter than conjuring the soft stirrings of a breeze or creating the tinkling of a bell. You will notice, in your practices, that you require ingredients and foci in order to accomplish even the most mundane of tasks. Sure, you’re aware of the anchors for wards and have seen the sorcerers in the market purchasing an eclectic assortment of bits and bobs. You have the mental image of the mystique gentleman, waving about tails of newts and sprigs of holly in order to cause the very earth to shudder at his whim.
These foolish notions are even encouraged by my colleagues. They are drunk on the power of the arcane. They have tasted the sweet wine of the aether and have become lost in its heady aromas.
Well, young initiate, things are not so easy. If it were, anyone could be a sorcerer. Even the fair maids of the gentler sex would be able to tame the wild forces of chaos and nature. However, things are not so simple, and most of you will never progress beyond the basics.
The arcane is still a mysterious force even to this day. Despite our many journals, theories and practices, we still do not understand exactly how the forces work. Why do cinders and pine needles release such power to cause drowsiness in those who inhale their fumes? Why does willow bark coated in honey allow one to hide themselves beneath a veil of a foreign face?
The simple explanation, as you have heard, is that every thing contains a certain attuned energy. A flame is attuned to fire. Wind is attuned to air. The natural question would be how many types of energy are there and how do you identify them?
And that would be the wrong question.
The most basic concept is that every thing has its own unique energy. Mine is different than yours which is different than your mother’s which is different than the Queen’s. Yet we all have the same basic ‘human’ energy. We will all use our own to create glamours. However, if I hold up a piece of willow bark and admix with my own energy, I will create a different glamour than you will. Don’t believe me, let’s have some volunteers. You sir, with the dazed look. And you, mister, the one who looks like he’s old enough to teach this lecture.
Come here. I have a simple glamour for you to perform. Take this bell and rattle and create a glamour that will make the rattle ring with the clarity of the church clocktower. The rest of you, observe carefully the notes produced.
You see? Your drowsy pupil made a sound almost like a simple country church bell. One, I would dare say, sounds like it were cracked deeply down its side. And this excellent gentleman has produced a sound so clear I dare hazard it would put the great church of Thyre to shame.
And yet, neither of them have performed a different glamour. Each has focused the sound of the bell through the rattle. So what causes these differences? Is it the obvious difference in age, handsomeness, intelligence, diligence, height, weight or even hair colour? Perhaps the very diet differences between these two gentlemen has caused the energies to be different. It can not be the bell and rattle, for they were the same between.
You see, invocations are a complex practice. One that starts with you: the practitioner. You must be acutely aware of the power of your admixture. It is a quantifiable fact that there will be some of you that are just naturally more adapt at the use of the arcane. Some of you will find that your energy only produces the slightest of glamours.
Invariably, you lowly initiates will take this as a sign of superiority. Obviously, those with the weakest energies, the softest of wills must surely be closer to the mundane. They must be just one step away from those completely incapable of practising any magick whatsoever.
And, once again, your prejudice would betray your ignorance.
Some of the greatest sorcerers were those with the weakest personal wills. That is for the simple conclusion that they are able to dilute their essences the easiest. It is a fact that the greatest wills in this class will struggle to produce anything that is not a glamour. And, while the powers of glamours are certainly impressive, your wills will greatly reduce your ability to invoke charms and wards. Consequently, you will also be the least desirable for participation in rituals.
Naturally, it is not raw power that is important but the cunning and wit of one’s mind that is fundamental for the channelling of the arcane. Those with weak wills can focus their invocations through other humans and other objects. They are better able to grasp the concept of using multiple admixtures and proxy foci. They are keen to the supplemental rituals, especially those requiring multiple practitioners to suppress their own wills in the collaborations.
Of course, some of you will argue and rail against my words. I welcome the challenge of your rebelliousness. Some of the greatest sorcerers are those of Teutanic descent, a people that have consistently shown remarkable forces of will. In fact, my greatest and most controversial pupil was of this barbaric ancestry.
And that is, in my mind, because those of strong wills have greater command of the energies that they do channel. While weaker willed practitioners will be very adept at multiple implements and foci, stronger willed practitioners that overcome their own flaws can get the most out of single ingredients than any other.
But enough of that. You came here to learn the basics of invocations.
Invocations create the bulk of magicks you will channel. They are your daily conjurations and enchantments. They are the skills you will call upon to defend yourself in confrontations. They are the spells you will use to conduct your research.
An invocation is little more than the simple release and channel of the energy from one or more simple ingredients. While they appear to be the simplest of skills in theory, they are also the hardest to create. They require an intimate knowledge of the ingredients and how they react with the self. For this reason, sorcerers naturally find a collection of invocations that they prefer. These are the most familiar invocations. For example, one of my familiars is a refraction glamour – a complex invocation to most but allows me to cause any one item to appear to vanish. Behold the rattle from the earlier demonstration. I want you to watch it carefully.
You see, it has vanished completely from sight. It appears as if I am not even holding it but observe – the slightest flick of my wrist and you can still hear it as clear as day. And before you ask, no I will not teach you this glamour. Why, you may ask, to which I have my own question. What were my components? What were my admixtures?
You didn’t see them, did you. What’s that? No, they were not hidden within the rattle, but that thinking will take you far. Very far indeed.
Observe – you see, I have had this stone beneath my tongue this entire time. The second component I use is the brass of my jacket button. That’s it, just these two simple components. Seems quite rudimentary but this is a familiar of mine. It will take most of you at least three more components to create the exact same invocation. Some of you will require even more. And even a couple of you will be unable to perform this without the execution of a secondary ward.
You see, despite all our research and study, the practice of magick is still an intensely personal affair. You can not just read a library of books and understand how to channel the arcane. It requires constant, daily practice. It requires intense study. It requires a persistence and strength of character that not all possess.
Most of you will struggle to ever perform anything beyond the simplest of invocations and may never develop any familiars. However, the study of the arcane is not a worthless pursuit to you. You see, even the dullest of minds can still capitalize on the qualities of components. All of you can practice alchemy.
Alchemy is almost a form of a ritual, you see. It has precise ingredients in specific measurements. It creates arcane effects but it completely removes the human element from the process. It is the channelling by recipe. All those books you see in the studies of the most successful sorcerers are likely to be alchemical books. You needn’t a familiarity to brew. You need just to be able to follow precise instructions.
It appears we have run out of time, however. Tomorrow, we will address the specifics of rituals and then I shall introduce you to the fundamentals of rituals.